Newcomer Nemanja Matic will not start against Man United, but could be on the bench – while Branislav Ivanovic is rated doubtful.
Matic, resigned from Benfica this week for £22m to begin a second spell at Stamford Bridge, is fit and raring to go, but Jose Mourinho will not plunge him straight into the fray on Sunday.
“Matic is not starting the game,” said the Chelsea boss.
“I feel that I hold respect to my other players. We are doing well – we are playing well. I don’t think it’s the right message that a new player comes in. I’m not playing Matic from the beginning.”
Mourinho added: “I’m sure he will have an impact. I’m happy he came now because it gives him this five, six months to the end of the season.
“He’ll be with the team in this moment of evolution and building up the team that we want to be for many many years.
"Not because we desperately need and we have good balance. In terms of our future in the way we analyse our squad. His profile of player is one I like."
Ivanovic is back in training today (Friday) but has been absent all week, so is unlikely to play. Frank Lampard, on the other hand, is back in action at Cobham and could feature.
Chelsea played without a conventional striker at Old Trafford earlier in the season, packing the midfield to stifle the home side for a 0-0 draw. But that will not be the case at Stamford Bridge.
“I’ll play with a striker now,” Mourinho said. “We did at Old Trafford but in another way. We played with Oscar up front, Andre Schurrle, Eden Hazard.
“The game was tight, so I don’t think to play with or without a striker. I think we are at a different moment in our evolution. We are going to change that.”